In this article:
- Of Parents And Proofing
- When Do We Baby Proof Our Home?
- Technology And Proofing
- Outlets, Cords And Electrical Devices
- Securing Furniture And Fixtures
- Recommended Safety Gates
- Constantly Check Window Accessories
- Secure Doors And Windows
- Poison Prevention
- Water And Drowning Prevention
- Fire Safety
- Burns And Cuts Prevention
- Car Safety
- Use Cribs Wisely And Properly
- Sun Safety
- Toy Guide For Safety Toys
- The Family Pet
- Kitchen Safety
- Keep Child Away From Your Purse
- Emergency Numbers And First Aid
OF PARENTS AND PROOFING
As a parent, protecting our children is innate. We would do everything to keep our children safe especially to the dangers and threats that the outside world presents. We are so worried about the dangers outside our home that we sometimes overlook the biggest threat to our children's safety and well-being -- our own home.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental injury is the leading cause of death among children in the United States, taking more lives than that of violence outside our home. Statistics show that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Most of the drownings and near-drownings happen in residential swimming pools and in open water sites.
This is just one of the dangers that we need to look into as parents. That's why it's very important to childproof your home.
This may seem a lot to take into account but, as they say, better safe than sorry. This article aims to help us parents be equipped with child proofing ideas and some tips from childproofing experts, themselves.
WHEN DO WE BABY PROOF OUR HOME?
So when is the best time to baby proof our house? According to proofing expert Bill Brooner, Founder, and President of Baby Proofing Montgomery and a member of the International Association for Child Safety "The best time to start babyproofing is before your child starts crawling and discovering all the dangers in your home. However, if your baby is already crawling, or even learning to walk, it’s not too late. The key is to make sure your baby’s surroundings encourage growth and help your baby explore safely. The first thing to do is to get down on the floor to see what your child sees—from his/her view. This can be an eye-opening experience and will help you identify some of the hidden dangers that exist. Remember, baby proofing is an on-going process. As children grow and develop, so does their curiosity. We recommend crawling around and reassessing things every month or so."
TECHNOLOGY AND PROOFING
One of the things we love in today's era is how technology makes everything convenient for us. We have gadgets for just about everything. If you are going to install gadgets by yourself, be wary of the video monitors, the wires, and electricity that most parents install in or next to the crib. Better yet, hire a professional child proofer to install these devices for you. The International Association for Child Safety gives you a list of their accredited childproofer.
Of course, these gadgets are just there for our convenience. Supervision should still be practiced at all times.
OUTLETS, CORDS AND ELECTRICAL DEVICES
Kids and outlets definitely spell out disaster and although outlet covers and safety plugs may just do the trick, unfortunately, it can end up in your baby's mouth which could lead to choking. Instead of the push in ones, you can replace it with the sliding ones with the safety latch
If there's an outlet, there's a cord along there somewhere. Long electrical cords may be tied up or taped down. Another suggestion is hiding the electrical cords behind furniture or using a "hide-a-cord" device.
Of course, these cords are attached to electrical devices such as toasters, blow dryers, electric fans, and lamps, to name a few appliances. Safety-wise, keep these cords unplugged and out of reach
SECURING FURNITURE AND FIXTURES
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), based on the 430 reported fatalities associated with tip-overs which occurred between 2000 and 2013, 84% involved children between the ages of 1 month to 10 years old totaling to 360 children. This is based on The 2014 CPSC Report for Product Instability or Tip-Over Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Televisions, Furniture, and Appliances
We may think to ourselves: "It's impossible to tip-over dressers or furniture! It was even too heavy for the furniture delivery people!" Yes, it may have taken 4 people to carry that dresser but when a child opens the drawers and starts climbing them, it's now a different story.
It would be wise to push these heavy dressers and furniture to the edge of the wall and then secure them, making sure the heavier items are piled at the bottom to make it less top-heavy.
Always keep your dresser drawer closed to prevent children from making a ladder out of it. A safety lock would even be better!
RECOMMENDED SAFETY GATES
One of the most popular safety precaution us parents consider is installing safety gates. Mainly because it allows us to keep our child indoors when we want to open outside doors. Also, it contains the child in one place and blocks his access to dangerous stairways and forbidden areas.
Executive Director Colleen Driscoll of IAFCS points out that installing pressure-mounted baby gates at the top of the stairs is definitely a no no, instead, they recommend families use only hardware-mounted gates at the top of stairways, not pressure gates which children can dislodge.
Many parents wisely place safety gates at the top of the stairs, but not at the bottom. It would be wise to place safety gates both at the top and bottom as to not overlook the fact that a child can climb up and fall backward down the steps.
When choosing safety gates, always look for gates that you can easily open and/or close but your child can't. Choose a straight-slat design rather than an old accordion-style with V-shaped openings as it poses a safety threat of entrapment and strangulation. Most of all, buy brand-new safety gates that display a seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturer (JPMA).
CONSTANTLY CHECK WINDOW ACCESSORIES
CPSC statistics show that the cords on window coverings are a frequent cause of strangulation of children. For instance, a baby's neck could become entangled in the cords that raise the blinds and be strangled in a matter of minutes, so it's recommended to use cordless window coverings wherever possible and never place the baby's crib near the windows or cut off the pull cords or shorten them to keep them out of reach
SECURE DOORS AND WINDOWS
Falling out of windows may be surreal to us parents but the danger is ever so real. CPSC report shows that an average of 8 children under 5 dies from falling out of windows in the US annually.
Double-hung windows should always be opened from the top or put locks on it so that children cannot open them. The opening for low windows would only be 4 inches. You can place a window stopper to prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches.
Put window bars instead of just window screens as they are not strong enough to prevent falls and in choosing window stops or window guards, use the one that screws into the side of the window frame. Most importantly, the guards should fit snugly but not too securely that an older child or adult cannot remove them in case of an emergency (in accordance with industry standards as announced by the CPSC)
Sadly, thousands of children fall from windows every year so keep in mind to always, keep furniture away from windows so that children cannot use it as a ladder to climb up the windowsill.
Another major cause of fatality of children is poisoning. In 2009, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported a whopping 1.2 million possible poisoning of children under 5. Here are some ways to prevent poisoning:
NATIONAL POISON CONTROL CENTER - Always keep and store their number (800) 222-1222 (US) as well as your local emergency numbers close and visible to every phone. You might want to store that on your mobile phone as well.
Keep poisonous products out of your children's reach - Poisonous products especially cleaning agents, medications, alcohol, hand sanitizer, mothballs and other toxic items. Keep in mind to never mix household cleaning products together, especially bleach and ammonia as it creates a toxic gas. Also, never put your cleaning agents or other toxic substances in a food package such as soda bottles to prevent older children and other adults to mistaken it with soda
Throw away old and expired medicines - Medicines are toxic and could contaminate water supply so always dispose of it properly. Ask your local waste disposal agency on how to safely dispose of them or call the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hotline at (800) 463-6332. Some pharmacies take back expired medication so you might want to check that out with your pharmacy.
Use childproof bottles to store your medications to prevent children from getting hold of it.
Toxic house plants - Get rid of toxic houseplants such as philodendron or move them out of reach.
Carbon monoxide poisoning- Watch out for malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as generators, water heaters, oven, stove, gas dryers, furnaces, etc. as these produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is deadly and is not easy to detect because it is an odorless and colorless gas.
Prevention can be done by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home including the nursery. Don't forget to check batteries and if the alarm goes off, immediately leave the premises or call 911.
WATER AND DROWNING PREVENTION
According to the National Safety Council and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. The majority of drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools and in open water sites. However, children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
Never leave babies unattended, not even for a moment, in the tub, or in a pool or any other water source. Not even with small amounts of water, cleaning solutions or other liquids in buckets or other containers
Erect fencing around pools at least 4 feet high with a self-closing, self-latching gate. If you have a wading pool, empty it after use and store it upright.
Empty wading pools and store upright after each use.
Don't leave even small amounts of water, cleaning solutions, or other liquids in buckets or other containers. Young children are top-heavy so if they fall in, which is often the case while peering into the bucket, they can fall in headfirst and get stuck.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 2,500 children in the United States were injured or killed in residential fires in 2007, and more than 1,000 of those children were under the age of 4.
Install smoke detectors in every room and make sure to change the batteries every year or better yet, consider alarms that has a 10-year life span.
Alway keep a fire extinguisher in your home, making sure it is checked according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Check batteries in carbon monoxide detector at least twice a year.
Review your fire escape route.
Most importantly, keep children away from matches and other flammable products as well as electronics
BURNS AND CUTS PREVENTION
Children, by nature, are very curious. I guess that is how they learn, however, their curiosity could lead them to accidents, particularly leaving burns and cuts. Here are some safety precautions to avoid such accidents:
When baking, make sure the oven door is locked and when cooking, if possible use the back burners and the handles of pots and pans should be placed towards the back of the stove.
Water temperatures should be checked and kept below 120 °F, if not children could burn themselves if exposed in hot water. It is safer to not only use a thermometer in checking but also check with your exposed elbow in. If in case you cannot change the water setting, then it is best to just leave it on the cold setting.
You drive and run some errands and since there's no one to look after your child, you take him with you. The question is "Is your child safe in the car?" When we bring our kids along, we want to be extra careful when driving. Forget your cell phone or your iPad. Ignore texts and/or calls. 10 seconds may be really short but when driving, it makes all the difference.
Install car seat properly, positioning it in the middle of the backseat and remember to keep the baby in the rear-facing car seat until the age of 2 or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Older children should be seated in the backseat.
Do not leave your child inside the vehicle. According to Pediatrics (Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) the total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 1998 - present is 700 while in 2016 alone, there was 39. The dangers of leaving a child in a car are imminent. When a child is left inside a car on a hot day, their temperature rises and it only take minutes for their bodies to shut down which will eventually lead to death.
USE CRIBS WISELY AND PROPERLY
Babies and cribs will always go together, but, if we want to keep our little ones safe and free from accidents, we need to be careful when choosing the right crib. For starters, we don't want to use crib bumpers or drop-side cribs. Also, we don't want soft, fluffy bedding. This includes pillows, comforters or sheepskins under sleeping babies. All these no no's could prevent our babies from suffocation.
When the baby is old enough to be on his hands and knees, it's better to remove hanging toys as they're bound to reach them. When the baby pulls up, the mattress should already be in the lowest position to prevent tumbling over and falling.
SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may well be related to the previous discussion which is about cribs. Others call this as "crib death". This is when a baby below 1 year dies during sleep with no warning signs. There is no 100% way to prevent SIDS but we can do something to lower the baby's risk.
Sleeping Position - always lay down babies to sleep on their back instead of on his side or stomach, even for naps. Chances are if you put your baby on his side, he'll roll over on his stomach and these positions put your baby's face in the mattress, smothering him or blocking his airways.
Maternal Smoking in Pregnancy - mothers should avoid smoking when pregnant. Studies show that smoking in pregnancy increased the risk of SIDS.
Secondhand Smoking in Pregnancy- although the risk is not as great as maternal smoking in pregnancy, there is still a threat and it's best to avoid it.
Heat Factor - avoid getting the baby too warm by overdressing or with too much clothes and beddings
Head covering - avoid having the baby's head covered especially with beddings. Placing the infant in a sleeping sack reduces the risk of head covering and thus reducing their risk of SIDS
Bed Sharing - the risks for SIDS when sleeping with parents and/or siblings include airway obstruction, thermal stress, head covering and hypoxia due to rebreathing of expired gasses.
Sharing Parental Bedroom - sharing the parental bedroom but not the bed, attributed to reducing the risk of SIDS compared to infants sleeping in a separate bedroom.
Illness and Infection - consult a doctor if your baby is unwell
Safe sleeping environment - Don't put babies to sleep on water beds or other soft surfaces. Let them sleep on a firm bed. Don't let them sleep or nap on pillows or fluffy bedding such as comforters or sheepskins as these could put your baby at risk of suffocation.
Breastfeeding - Studies show that breastfeeding reduces infection thus reducing the risk of SIDS
Pacifiers - the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the use of pacifiers throughout the first year of life as it is associated with reducing the risk of SIDS
We don't want our babies getting sunburn or heatstroke so keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible. When your baby is outside, protect skin with hats, light-colored clothing with long sleeves, and sunscreen.
TOY GUIDE FOR SAFETY TOYS
Whether we like it or not, if we have kids, we would definitely have toys, so the best tip would probably to choose the safest ones. How do we know if it's safe? Here's a little toy guide for you.
It's appropriate for their age and skill set. You are not going to give a 1-year-old some legos, right? Babies or toddlers and lego are definitely a no-no. It absolutely spells all sorts of danger. Choking, to name one.
Preferably, give a toy that does not have buttons, beads, eyes, nose, ribbons or other small pieces that babies or toddlers can easily pull off and swallow.
Choose a toy that is not too heavy for your child otherwise it could fall to his feet or may fall on him.
It should have no strings or cords. If it does, it should not be longer than 12 inches. Aside from having no strings or cords, it should not be something that can be hung around a child's neck (a necklace for example) as this could possibly strangle your child.
It should be in good condition and must be made of quality, preferably BPA-free and Lead-Free.
Now, how do we determine if the toys we're using are safe for our children? You may check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) if the product you've purchased has been recalled and also you can check the toy's specifications.
THE FAMILY PET
When we talk about pets, it's usually either a cat or a dog. While these pets are considered family, it wouldn't hurt to be a little extra careful when our babies or toddlers are around our furry friends.
Never leave your child alone with the pet. Most likely, these pets will not harm your child by attacking or biting but pets could be a little playful sometimes and we wouldn't know how rough it would be for your child.
Teach your child to be gentle with the pet. Let your child know that your pet is family.
Most importantly, your pets' vaccines and shots should be updated.
The kitchen is definitely a red zone for your child. It has all sorts of hazards such as poison, burn, cut, fire or even suffocation and choking. Some of these are already discussed on the previous topics but still worth mentioning.
Always keep cleaning supplies out of reach instead of the usual storage under the sink. If in case you do, always lock the cabinet door. These could keep your child from getting a hold of poisonous substance.
If you should leave mouse or insect traps, make sure your child cannot see or find them.
To prevent burns, when you're baking, make sure the oven door is locked. When cooking, make sure to use the back burners and turn handles of pots and pans toward the back of the stove.
If possible, don't use magnets on the refrigerator. If ever you do, make sure to use the really strong ones so it cannot fall down and be swallowed by your child.
Keep matches and lighters away and out of your child's reach as this
KEEP CHILD AWAY FROM YOUR PURSE
You'd be surprised what's in a woman's purse. It's a girl thing, they say but, it's a definite no-no for kids. Too many dangerous objects. From cosmetics, pens, hair clips, comb/brush, medication to hand sanitizer, baby wipes and more. Coins are also a big no-no as children may swallow and choke on it.
Keep in mind that new things excite your child so it's best to keep your child away from your purse. Your purse is actually a gold mine for children.
EMERGENCY NUMBERS AND FIRST AID
Always store emergency numbers somewhere visible and program them into your phone and your cell phones.
Make sure first-aid supplies are readily available and are stock up.